Cement and Materials

Kenyan cement makers eye massive DR Congo market

Kenyan cement makers eye massive DR Congo market
Mining News Pro - Kenyan cement companies have stepped up expansion plans with an eye on the estimated 10 million metric tonnes annual demand of cement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) market.

The East Africa region’s installed cement capacity is currently estimated at 15.6 million tonnes, with 8.6 million tonnes of that figure produced in Kenya according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

Cement firms are expanding their total clinker production capacity by 70 percent to 10.7 metric tonnes per year by 2023 from the current 6.3 metric tonnes as part of their strategy to expand in the EAC region.

East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC), National Cement, Bamburi Cement, Karsan Ramji & Sons, Rai Cement and Savannah Cement plan to add a total of 4.4 metric tonnes annually to their clinker capacities.

“In the past 10 years, EAPCC has been missing from the infrastructural agenda due to competition among other challenges. Now we have come up with a five year strategic plan as we want to revamp our operations,” said Oliver M. Kirubai, managing director at the EAPCC.

“We are targeting the East African market, including the DRC. We are getting inquiries from Rwanda as well.”

Agenda Four
All the EA countries have infrastructure projects lined up.

“Uganda and Tanzania want to do roads and the Standard Gauge Railway. In Kenya, the growth in cement production and consumption is attributed to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Agenda Four pillars including housing and manufacturing sectors,” he said.

“Despite Covid-19 pandemic, the cement demand has been growing. The cement industry is growing at a double digit growth because of government spending on infrastructure.”

Infrastructural projects such as the Nairobi Expressway, Dongo Kundu bypass, James Gichuru-Rironi highway, Nairobi Western bypass, as well as construction of mega dams in various parts of the country have seen increased consumption of cement.

“In our industry, competitive advantage lies in operational efficiency and low production costs,” said Kirubai.

The DRC, which is set to join the EAC regional bloc this year, is a country in need of infrastructure development.

Last week, the DRC Deputy President and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’Apala said one of the things they want to do is surface infrastructure.

“We have embarked on a national programme of reconstruction in various sectors including infrastructure, agriculture, energy and environmental conservation,” said Pen’Apala.

“We already import our goods through Mombasa port and therefore road construction especially in the eastern Congo is part of our major plans. We are seeking partnerships and investment in major infrastructure projects.”

The EAPCC welcomed DRC’s entry into the EAC regional bloc saying its 92 million people population offers a huge market for industrial products from Kenya.

“Cement consumption in sub-Saharan Africa at the moment is 113 million metric tonnes. In DRC, the demand would be lower but DRC instantly needs 10 million metric tonnes of cement of which they don’t have such capacity to deliver,” Kirubai explained.

Clinker investment

“We plan a plant refurbishment to deliver operational excellence and therefore contain production costs and enable us venture into DRC and her environs.”

EAPCC, Bamburi and National Cement are among firms that own their own clinker plants, while Savannah Cement, imports clinker.

Savannah plans to put up a clinker plant in Kitui County with a capacity of 8,000 tonnes per day or 2.7 million tonnes annually.

Savannah also plans to venture into cement making in neighbouring Uganda.

“We have been spending a lot of money importing clinker whose shortage in the country is well documented. We plan to put up our own Clinker plant whose investment is valued at $350 million,” said acting Savannah Cement CEO Samson Shivina.

“We are already supplying the Eastern part of DRC with our product. Eventually we will have a presence in DRC.”

Apart from DRC, Savannah also exports cement to South Sudan and northern Tanzania.

National Cement, which acquired assets of ARM Cement in Kenya in 2019 for $50 million and on an aggressive expansion drive (target: 3.5 metric tonnes) is currently Kenya’s largest cement manufacturer.

Owned by the Devki Group of companies, it already has a presence in Uganda in the name of Simba Cement brand with growing interest in the larger EAC.

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